Tuesday, April 7, 2020

MLB Considering Electronic Strike Zone for Social Distance Safety During 2020 Season

Could MLB return with electronic strike zones? Sources say Major League Baseball is considering a late May or June start to its 2020 season, with all 30 teams playing games at facilities in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area.

Social distancing features prominently in a list of possible rules changes under consideration, including one such change long pushed for by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Some potential possibilities—all in the brainstorming stage—include the elimination of all mound visits, seven-inning doubleheaders to allow for more games, players sitting in the stands six feet apart instead of in a dugout, and more extensive on-field microphone use.

Remember, 2020 was the first season MLB crew chiefs were to be mic'd in order to explain Replay Review decisions.
Related PostUmpires to Explain Rulings via Mic in 2020 (1/27/20).

An umpire steps back to allow ABS to see.
The final proposal is implementation of an electronic strike zone "to allow the plate umpire to maintain sufficient distance from the catcher and batter."

Did MLB read our April Fools article this year?
RelatedNew Atlantic League Rules for 2020 (4/1/20).

Or is coronavirus simply an excuse to prime a baseball audience for electronic balls and strikes? After all, MLB can proceed with development of an K-zone—the MLBUA agreed to robo-ump development during its last round of CBA negotiations in December 2019—and if MLB can entice fans and players to accept electronic balls and strikes for the sake of playing the game in some form this summer, what's to say that the robot zone won't stick around later on as well?
Related PostMLB, Umps Union Reach Tentative Agreement (12/21/19).

Logically speaking, the umpire-catcher interaction is perhaps the most prolonged and intimate pairing on a baseball field, so risk of contagion should decrease simply by increasing distance.

Will players wear masks during play?
But what about batter-catcher? Or runner-fielder? Or coach/manager-player? So much of the supposedly non-contact sport of baseball is built upon...well...contact.

Then there are the logistic concerns. All teams will play in Arizona, but the greater Phoenix area is expansive. The Cactus League uses 10 sites (several teams share ballparks) spread out over an approximately 100 square-mile area, not to mention additional minor league parks and other fields that would be used.

Though the plan is to sequester all teams and umpires in local hotels, which themselves would be closed off, the risk of transmission would remain. What if an inbound participant contracts the virus during their inbound flight...or brings it with them from their city of origin? If the person is an asymptomatic carrier, it could be devastating: NBA Donovan Mitchell said the "scariest part" about being infected with coronavirus is showing no symptoms, potentially infecting others without even knowing.

What's the risk of transmission here?
With MLB apparently aware that players are low-risk for COVID-19, coaches, managers, and umpires—especially crew chiefs—aren't.

Sources indicate that MLB wouldn't want to "quarantine an entire team or shut down the season" as a response to a positive test...yet many virus carriers have no-to-mild symptoms, especially in the "low-risk" group.

Does this mean MLB is willing to risk an asymptomatic carrier participating and potentially transmitting the disease?

Not all ejections are ball/strikes-based.
Sure the economic upside could help the league what with baseball being the only sport playing so soon—as evidenced by MLB reportedly considering an offer to pay minor leaguers full MLB salaries and benefits in exchange for expanded rosters just in case a player drops out due to testing positive for the virus—but at what cost?

What happens when a player, manager, or coach wants to have a conversation with the umpire or tries to make a double-switch? Social-distance smoke signals?

Forget about ejections, which, despite MLB's efforts to decrease with expanded instant replay, reached a 14-year high in 2019 with 217 heave-ho's, the most since 2006's mark of 218...and 2019's QOC = Correct rate for ejections actually was up compared to previous years...meaning players and coaches literally argued just for the sake of arguing.
Related2019 Stats - Ejections Spike, But So Do Correct Calls (9/30/19).

Is this Futurama scene protective enough?
And has MLB even considered that the MLB Umpires Association might not want to put its membership in harm's way, even if that means losing out on a year's paycheck?

After all, if MLB wants to insert an Automated Ball/Strike System in order to socially distance the umpire, then MLB must logically have concluded that the umpire is someone who needs that social distance protection.

And if that's true, wouldn't putting MLBUA members in harm's way anyway constitute negligence if not reckless disregard?

Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New Atlantic League Rules for 2020

Despite baseball's indefinite shutdown, the Atlantic League, having partnered with MLB in 2019 with rules such as allowing batters to steal first base on any wild pitch, announced experimental rules for its 2020 campaign. CloseCallSports.com obtained exclusive information on some rule changes for the upcoming season. They are as follows:

1a) The Automated Ball/Strike System has been programmed to call check swings by determining whether the barrel of the bat has crossed the front edge of home plate. This will manifest in the existing ABS system by announcing "strike" whenever ABS determines that the bat crossed the front edge of home plate. Occasionally, ABS might mistake the bat for a pitched ball, but the call of "strike" shall nonetheless prevail.

In an effort to promote social distancing, all umpires shall stand at least three feet behind the catcher when adjudicating balls and strikes in what is being informally referred to as the "Non-Phil Cuzzi Mechanic."

Will the latest changes make it to MiLB?
As was the case in 2019, the media shall not be permitted to take any photos of the computer screen displaying the ABS system; the sole ABS outcome that shall be communicated to the public shall be the system's final decision of "ball" or "strike."

1b) The glitch in which ABS fails to call either "ball" or "strike" has been fixed. Despite our previous reporting and pages upon pages of evidence that ABS routinely misses pitches ("When I say it missed 500 pitches [in April], that didn't mean they called them wrong. They didn't call them at all" - Joe West), the league has assured folks this was due to a persistent volume error on Apple iOS which cut out the audio signal right at the moment of verbalization. Umpires have been instructed that when the system outputs no audio, the proper call is "strike."
Related Post: Video - Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone (5/30/19).

ALPB doesn't want a repeat of Frank Violin.
1c) Umpires have been instructed to refrain from ejecting any players in connection with the Automated Ball/Strike System's pitch calls. Any such ejection shall be subject to league review; however, under the newly-adopted "Frank Viola Rule," any non-player who argues the Automated Ball/Strike System shall be subject to immediate discipline, up to and including demotion to the Houston Astros.

2) No more automatic doubles if the ball bounces over the fence. Instead, the umpire shall determine where the ball first contacted the playing field to determine base awards. If the ball first bounced off the outfield grass, a two-base award shall be had, as the present rules dictate. However, a new universal ground rule will award a ground-rule triple if the ball first contacts the dirt warning track before bounding over the wall and out of play. For scorekeepers, an error shall be charged in connection with the play if at any time the ball touched an outfielder.

Players caught using Barroids shall be banned.
3) Batters can no longer wear any protective equipment. The "Barry Bonds Rule" includes arm guards, shin guards or anything worn for the disproportionate rationale of "safety" at the expense of making a hit-by-pitch more likely. Penalty shall be ejection for the first offense and relegation to the San Francisco Giants on the second.

4) Batters can steal third base on a wild pitch. The play at third will become a force play.  If the batter/runner is thrown out at third, the inning is over no matter how many outs there were when the play began. If he is safe, the next batter comes to the plate with a new count. A batter can not steal third if it’s occupied, but shall be permitted to run after the wild pitch/passed ball and kick the ball away from the catcher or other fielder.

5) All bases will be red, white, and blue because: AMERICA! The blue bases are worth two points. A player may physically steal a base and carry it around the base paths in order to avoid being put out; however, such a base intentionally dislodged and carried by the offense may only be returned to its natural position during a live ball or base award as the result of actions that occurred during a live ball.

Players may brandish bases to avoid outs.
6) All games will now be eight innings and all batters shall inherit a 1-1 count in any game whose score differential is four or greater. In an effort to increase scoring, all games shall begin with both teams tied at a score of 9-9.

7) There will be a three-hour time limit on all games with no new inning beginning at two hours and forty minutes from the scheduled start time.

8) The 8th inning will be our special comeback inning to keep the fans entertained. If a manager elects to use a pinch-hitter, his run will count as double (triple on blue bases). If the pinch hitter hits a home run, all runs count as quadruple. If the bases are loaded, the home run shall be a quintuple.

Many have been following the bizarre rule changes ever since the eastern indy league has grabbed money from MLB and became obliged to obey just about every request—these were the requests for 2020.

Quotes:

Robbed-of-Sense Manfred:  “You believe this?!  We keep trolling them and they keep letting us do whatever we want.  I was going to suggest that each team has to play with a little leaguer, but we found out insurance would be too high and that no little leaguers want to be part of a rinky dink production…Did I do it again?  Did I say that out loud."

Chris Younger-Than-Springtime: "The Atlantic League, what’s that? You guys know I was the pitcher and not the hitter right?"

Joe Torree: “I have this problem.  Randy keeps calling me just to chat. When will he realize he’s no longer working for the office?”

Rick-Roll White: “As long as umpires don’t mess up, we’ll have a great season. The reason we had to change the strike zone is because the umpires aren’t very good, but I respect them a lot. Nobody respects umpires more than me. I'd never defend them, but they must be some of the best people in the game. But don't tell anyone that because it might not be false. But seriously, our league might be out of business in 10 years if MLB leaves. Please don't leave, we'll do whatever you say."

Mike Pfaffy Taffy:  “Everyone knows I run the league. You know that, right? Wanna work here, you gotta get by me. They don't call 'em the Long Island Kings for nothing. Oh, you wanted to know about the new rules?  Well I’m hoping we expand to the moon: 30 teams by 2030 that’s what I say!  In reality, as long as the island makes money, why would I care about the rules?"

Happy April Fools' Day, everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Virtual Ejections - Robo-Lance Barrett (Compu-Angels)

With MLB's regular season delayed, today's virtual Opening Day produced the first ejection of the computerized calendar. HP Umpire Robo-Lance Barrett ejected Compu-Angels pitcher Robo-Shohei Ohtani (throwing at Compu-Astros batter Robo-Dustin Garneau after warnings for HBP to Robo-Alex Bregman) in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Compu-Angels vs Compu-Astros game.

Following a one out and one on (R1) balk, Robo-Bregman took a 0-0 fastball from Robo-Ohtani for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in warnings after Compu-Houston's virtual Opening Day opponent threw at them for some odd reason.

Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Robo-Bregman in the upper back, the call was irrecusable. Ensuing batter Robo-Garneau then took a first-pitch fastball for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in ejections of Robo-Ohtani and Manager Robo-Joe Maddon, who looked a lot like circa-2018 Robo-Mike Scioscia.

At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 0-0. The computer ultimately won the contest, 1-0. The home plate umpire was wearing #16, which is Robo-Barrett's sleeve number for 2020.

Baseball, please come back. Video as follows:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Joe West Settles with Action Network, Accuses Paul Lo Duca of Ignoring Lawsuit

MLB veteran umpire Joe West narrowed his defamation lawsuit, settling his case with The Action Network over purportedly slanderous comments made by Paul Lo Duca during a podcast. While settlement removes defendant TAN, West now accuses Lo Duca of ignoring the suit against him and seeks default judgment from the court.

In October 2019, West sued The Action Network and ex-player Paul Lo Duca after Lo Duca made statements that, according to West, "impugn the integrity, honesty and professional fitness of Mr. West and affect his profession as a Major League Baseball umpire."
Related PostJoe West Sues Paul LoDuca Over Bribery Claim (10/22/19).

Amongst Lo Duca's purportedly slanderous statements were claims made on a podcast produced by The Action Network that strongly suggested West accepted a bribe from Mets pitcher Billy Wagner in exchange for favorable ball/strike calls, as well as claims that West ejected Lo Duca "eight or nine times" during his career.

Fact checks both by Close Call Sports and West's legal team indicate Lo Duca's ejection claim was false—West ejected Lo Duca just once in his career—and that West never actually served as home plate umpire for any game Wagner pitched while Lo Duca was on the Mets.

As West's team wrote in the original complaint, "As a result of the foregoing Plaintiff was damaged in an amount to be determined at trial."
Related PostPants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation (5/10/19).

On January 27, 2020 Judge John J. Kelley ordered that West's team could serve Lo Duca with a copy of the summons and complaint via his Barstool Sports e-mail address because service using more traditional methods, including at least four New York addresses, failed.

On January 29, West's attorney Nicholas J. Zaita submitted an affidavit swearing that he served LoDuca at the Loduca@barstoolsports.com e-mail address.

On February 28, Zaita and The Action Network's attorney, Jeffrey G. Landis, stipulated the discontinuance of West's case against The Action Network. In the joint filing, the parties wrote that West's lawsuit "hereby is settled and dismissed, with prejudice, as to the Defendant The Action Network, Inc. only."

Lo Duca's deadline to appear or answer expired on March 9—with Lo Duca having failed to appear or answer.

By March 20, with Lo Duca still having failed to respond to the lawsuit, the Supreme Court of the State of New York updated its procedures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and impending NY "stay at home" order. This update postpones all civil trials indefinitely.

On March 23, West's team requested that The Action Network be removed from the lawsuit (due to the settlement) and that the court, on April 30, 2020, grant West default judgment against Lo Duca because Lo Duca quite simply has repeatedly failed to respond to the lawsuit.

Nearly two full months after West served Lo Duca at his BarstoolSports e-mail address, Lo Duca has yet to respond to the court.

Video as follows:

Friday, March 20, 2020

Reversed - MiLB Umpires Get Spring Financial Relief

A day after our report on Minor League Baseball's purported instruction that its umpires pay money to the league in the wake of Spring Training's COVID-19 prompted cancellation, MiLB, after consultation with MLB, changed its mind about the per diem issue and enforcement of the unemployment clause in the umpires-MiLB collective bargaining agreement.

Thursday, we remarked on the treatment disparity between minor league players, whom MLB's March 19 press release stated would receive allowances through (at least) the cancelled Spring Training period, and the umpires, who at the time had been ordered to write checks to the league office to account for per diem advances issued just days before professional baseball suspended operations.
Related PostViral Insult - Umpires Allegedly Ordered to Pay MiLB (3/19/20).

Minor League umps can now keep their cash.
24 hours later, it appears that MiLB's original call to prevent umpires from keeping their Spring Training allowances has been overturned, bringing the policy in line with MLB's announcement in regard to minor league players.

In addition to allowing MiLB Spring Training umpires to keep their advanced per diem payments, the reversed decision also purportedly includes an agreement to waive, with certain limitation, the unemployment clause in the CBA.

Instead of the previous posture that filing a claim for unemployment insurance or compensation based on MiLB's suspended operations and lack of work would effectively tender that umpire's resignation from affiliated baseball, MiLB Umpire Development will now reportedly allow its umpires in full-season leagues (e.g., Class-A, Double-A, Triple-A) to file for unemployment as of Minor League Baseball's originally-scheduled Opening Day (April 9).

Umps out of school or in short ball will wait.
Because short-season umpires (Rookie ball and so-called "Short-A") would not have reported until their respective leagues kicked off later in the summer, those umpires remain bound by the unemployment clause until their originally-scheduled report date (or what it originally would have been), upon which time they may become eligible for unemployment clause relief, just as the full season umpires will be starting April 9.

Naturally, all parties involved hope that will not become necessary as baseball hopes to get going before the dog days of summer are upon us.

The League also purportedly increased per-game pay for Spring Training games, for those minor league umpires assigned to MLB games, and all umpires scheduled for full MLB Spring Training (see below link for a list of Spring invitees and call-ups) received appropriate compensation.
Related Post2020 MLB Spring Training Umpire Roster (2/28/20).

Video as follows:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Viral Insult - Umpires Allegedly Ordered to Pay MiLB

Minor League Baseball purportedly asked its umpires to write checks to the league office as umps remain out of work, the opposite of the cash flow direction MiLB is taking with its players. Whereas MLB will pay players and major league umpires remain under contract, the story is different in Minor League Baseball, where players will get some help as MiLB's umpire staff remains in a holding pattern—under contract and not technically unemployed, yet unable to go to work, and, now, allegedly asked to pay their employer or risk losing their baseball jobs.

*UPDATE*: Following this article's publication, Minor League Baseball reversed its decision and allowed umpires to keep their Spring-issued per diems. MiLB has also waived the unemployment clause of the CBA referred to in the original article below. The updated article with MiLB's reversed decision is available here: Reversed - MiLB Umpires Get Spring Financial Relief (3/20/20).

*ORIGINAL STORY AS FOLLOWS*
Earlier this week, some parent clubs—such as the San Diego Padres—made the independent decision to pay their minor league players' Spring Training allowances through MiLB's originally-scheduled Opening Day of April 8, 2020, but MLB's March 19 announcement of interim support for MiLB players extends the decision league-wide and authorizes "a lump sum equal to the allowances that would have been paid through April 8th."

MiLB umpires are left in the lurch.
For illustrative purposes, the San Diego Tribute indicates that a standard minor league ST player's per diem totals approximately $160-per-week, which in lump sum fashion through April 8 could amount to about $500-650 per player. MLB is reportedly considering further compensation for players to account for delays after April 8.

However, minor league umpires—who earn a monthly salary ranging from just $2,000 to $3,900 during the season and whose per diems run in the mid-two-digits (about $64/day in Triple-A for 2020, per MiLB's website)—remain waiting, just as they had when MLB suspended operations and cancelled Spring Training on March 12.
Related PostMLB Suspends Operations - Defining a Delay (3/12/20).

Waiting to see if they'll receive that paltry salary, much less an allowance. Waiting to see if and when they'll be able to return to work. Waiting for confirmation as to employment status in what can best be described as a "zero hour schedule" equivalency.

Stock photo of baseball and money dot PNG.
All while hoping to continue chasing that big league dream...someday.

Umpires Ordered to Pay MiLB: Minor League Baseball has already hinted to its umpires how that "allowance" portion of compensation may go, purportedly instructing its umpires to return per diem advances to the league office or risk losing their jobs if and when the season kicks off.

MiLB allegedly sent advance per diem payments to some umpires earlier in March, before MLB formally suspended operations, and those are the payments the league purportedly wants back (rather than, say, allowing the umpires to hold onto them while times remain uncertain).

Some states have expanded unemployment insurance operations to include employees who, while technically remaining employed, have lost hours due to COVID-19. For instance, employees in California may be eligible for benefits under that state's "reduced hours" benefit. Naturally, this is not a country-wide policy.

However, MiLB Umpires Could Be Fired if They File: According to the minor league umpires' collective bargaining agreement with the league, which obviously was created in a world when there was no global pandemic, filing for unemployment is tantamount to resigning. So while these umpires can legally file a claim, doing so would, for all intents and purposes, end their time in professional baseball or could be interpreted as such.

Court is not usually on an umpire's mind.
In other words, if a minor league umpire files for unemployment insurance—even while drawing a $0 salary from MiLB and even while being ordered to pay money to MiLB—the league can, under the terms of the CBA, consider that as a resignation, even if individual states such as California specifically allow employees to file a virus-prompted "reduced hours" UI claim.

While laws exist regarding EEOC or, in this case, UI-based retaliation, attempting to navigate the waters of whether a world-wide virus scare and federal emergency supersedes an existing CBA is likely a drawn-out legal battle that an aspiring big league umpire wouldn't dare take on.

What is a Minor League Umpire to do? | Video as follows:

Friday, March 13, 2020

NCAA Cancels College World Series, Baseball Seasons

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) cancelled its entire Winter & Spring championship tournaments, including the College World Series. Though college baseball season itself did not technically encounter national cancellation, many individual conferences and schools have taken to cancelling seasons at the local level.

Similar stories can be found at the high school level, though the National Federation (NFHS) hasn't yet officially cancelled its calendar and has largely relied upon state associations to make individual calls. For instance, 13 states have presently canceled NFHS basketball tournaments, 16 postponed or suspended them, 10 imposed fan limits, and one (Montana) plans to continue without limitation.

Several cancellations were made in the midst of tournament play, and some of those decisions were made after having first tried to play games with fan limits. Some states also elected to cancel after first trying to suspend or postpone.

The NCAA, which opted to cancel all tournaments, issued the following statement:
NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.
College sports' governing body subsequently agreed that eligibility relief, or prolonged eligibility, for graduating seniors and other student-athletes will be considered at a later date.

Little League baseball also announced a postponement of Opening Day festivities.

As for umpires and referees, many officials from the youth and adult recreational to high school, college, and pro-am levels are suddenly out of work, which means the vast majority of sports officials impacted by cancellations and postponements will not be paid as most game officials tend to be independent contractors as opposed to employees otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance or other benefits.

As the Seattle Times wrote, "Gig workers fall through the public health safety net as corona virus spreads in Washington."

Video as follows:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

MLB Suspends Operations - Defining a Delay

Major League Baseball suspended operations, cancelled the remainder of Spring Training, and postponed Opening Day, delaying the start of 2020's regular season by at least two weeks. Not just for MLB's sake, but for NBA, NHL, MLS, NCAA, and other sports leagues, it's important to define our terminology.

Suspension, postponement, cancellation, and delay are nouns which will be bandied about in the coming hours, days, and weeks, but what does each mean? In order to avoid confusion as the sports world modifies its schedule, here's a glimpse at this entertainment industry terminology.

NOTE: MLB, for whatever reason, appears to have interchanged the terms "cancelled" and "suspend" regarding Spring Training in its press release. These are NOT identical terms and carry vastly different revenue/ticket implications, as the following definitions illustrate.

Definition of Terms, Sports
A SUSPENSION refers to a momentary hiatus or pause from an event or activity already in progress. For instance, the NBA suspended its in-progress season, while the NHL put a "pause" on hockey. When something is suspended, similar to a suspended game, it is expected to be made up at a future date, if possible. Tickets held for the original event will be honored for the resumption, and, thus, refunds will not be processed.

A POSTPONEMENT moves a scheduled game to a new date in the future. If Opening Day is postponed, for instance, it will still occur, just at a later time. Tickets for the original event will be good for the rescheduled/makeup date.

A CANCELLATION terminates whatever is in progress and whatever is scheduled with no intent to create a substitute event. For instance, if a college conference cancels a tournament or season, then said tournament or season will simply not occur and will not be made up. Cancellation begets an eventual refund (or ticket exchange).

A DELAY pertains to something happening that day at that event. If a game enters a rain/weather delay, for instance, play will be temporarily suspended, but will ideally resume within minutes or hours. Sit tight and wait it out.

A delay also refers to staying a component of a larger system (e.g., a few innings of a full game or a few games of a larger season), but the whole element (e.g., the game itself) is said to be postponed.

Thus, we might well be looking at a suspension of baseball operations, postponement of Opening Day, and cancellation of Spring Training, and delay the start of the season.

Video as follows:

Monday, March 9, 2020

2020 UEFL Draft and Registration Info

Welcome to the 2020 Umpire Ejection Fantasy League season. The registration and draft form is now open and is due prior to Opening Day. Pursuant to UEFL Rule 1 (Selection of Umpires), you may select umpires at once or in phases until the deadline. Stay tuned for the 2020 Draft Prospectus with stats and scouring information on MLB umpires eligible for selection.

Relevant Links for the 2020 UEFL Season
2020 UEFL Registration & Draft Form | UEFL Digest
UEFL Rules Book | Umpire Roster & Profiles
Twitter 🐦: @UmpireEjections
Facebook 👍: /UmpireEjections.

Registration and Draft Process
The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League is a free-to-play league. All you have to do to participate is fill out the registration and draft form.

How to Fill Out the Form
Step 1) First, indicate your desired username and e-mail address (or other unique identifier). In the event you choose to draft your umpires in phases, this unique identifier will verify your selection. If you comment on Close Call Sports via our DISQUS commenting platform, your username must be the same as the username you use for DISQUS.

If you aren't yet registered with DISQUS, you should sign up so that you can comment. Pursuant to UEFL Rules 4-7 and 6-1, only DISQUS-registered users logged into their accounts may challenge UEFL rulings.

Step 2) Draft 1 Crew Chief, 2 Primary Umpires, and 2 Secondary Umpires. You may draft these umpires all at once or in phases. To draft in phases, simply submit a new draft/registration form every time you wish to select a new member of your five-umpire crew. See the accompanying graphics and UEFL Rules 3 and 4 for specific information on how points are allocated throughout the season.

Registration, Draft, and Roster Deadlines:
Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Final day to submit registration and umpire selections.
Thursday, March 26, 2020: Roster locked and MLB regular season begins.

*In the event of a delay or postponement to the season, the aforementioned deadline dates shall reflect the day prior to and the revised Opening Day (first regular season game played), respectively*

Any user who has not selected umpires by Opening Day will be subject to random assignment (to take the "Quick Pick" option voluntarily, submit your registration form leaving your umpire selections blank or [N/A]).

UEFL Appeals Board - UEFL 6-4-a:
The 2020 UEFL Appeals Board, as finalized during the 2019 Rules Summit, includes:
Executive Board (x4): Gil (Chair), tmac (Vice Chair), Jeremy (Deputy), RichMSN (Charter).
At Large (x5): Arik G, cyclone14, MarkCanada, jvick2017, MLBUmpireObserver.

Reply here with questions and submit draft picks/register via the following form:
(Click here if you cannot view the embedded form.)

Friday, March 6, 2020

MLB Ejection S2 - Ryan Blakney (1; Joey Bart)

HP Umpire Ryan Blakney ejected Giants DH Joey Bart (strike three call) in the top of the 9th inning of the #Giants-#Brewers game. With two out and none on, Bart took 0-0, 0-1, and 2-2 pitches from Brewers pitcher Phil Bickford for called first, second, and third strikes.

QOC is unavailable for this Spring Training game, as electronic measurements were not used at American Family Fields of Phoenix. At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 5-5. The contest ultimately ended in a tie, 5-5.

This is Ryan Blakney (36)'s 1st ejection of Spring 2020.
Ryan Blakney now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Previous + 0 Spring = 0).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Prev + 0 Spring = 0).

This is the 2nd ejection report of Spring Training 2020, second of the preseason.
This is San Francisco's 1st ejection of 2020, 1st in the Cactus League (SF 1; All Others 0).
This is Joey Bart's first career MLB ejection.
This is Ryan Blakney's 1st ejection since August 27, 2019 (Amir Garrett; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Spring), 3/6/20 | Video as follows:

What to Expect from MiLB's Robo-Ump Test

With Minor League Baseball's Florida State League (Class-A Advanced) set to debut the Automated Ball/Strike System (ABS), Baseball America posited that insertion of so-called robot umpires would collaterally atrophy the pitch-calling skills of FSL's human umpire staff, to which I say, "not so fast."

Today's Gil's Call speaks to the officially unacknowledged reality of baseball's ABS from its time in the Atlantic and Arizona Fall Leagues—namely that the technology is faulty and prone to catastrophic and multifaceted failure.

In other words, ABS—whether TrackMan's doppler radar in 2019 or HawkEye's optical system in 2020—has a nasty tendency to miss pitches entirely. In the words of MLB's senior-most umpire Joe West, "It missed 500 pitches in April and when I say it missed 500 pitches, that didn't mean they called them wrong. They didn't call them at all."
Related PostVideo - Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone (5/30/19).

Speaking with umpires who have encountered this technology during gameplay, one thing becomes readily apparent about this not-ready-for-primetime experiment: It perhaps is more stressful to work an ABS game than to call balls/strikes in the traditional manner because, with ABS, the plate umpire never quite knows when the computer will miss a pitch.

Delayed calls will complicate matters.
And when ABS misses a pitch—as it did 500 times in the period referred to by West—the human umpire must fall back onto tradition and call "ball" or "strike" just as one would do without the technology.

Yet due to the electronic system's habitual timing problems—ABS is notoriously delayed in a sport where such delays sometimes are unacceptable [e.g., a 3-2 delayed call with a runner trying to steal]...according to one account, ABS once announced "strike" in an umpire's earpiece mid-play, only after the batter's ground ball had been fielded by the shortstop—the plate umpire can never really be sure (at least not within a two- or three-second window) whether ABS has failed to capture a pitch or whether ABS is simply going to squeal "ball" or "strike" after a metaphorical eternity of processing time.

Not for nothing, MiLB is heading into this 2020 experiment blind—HawkEye hasn't been tested in live gameplay yet (recall that 2019's vendor was TrackMan)—so outcomes aren't entirely predictable.

FoxTrax's static strike zone limitation.
In conclusion, I would expect that FSL umpires, despite encountering ABS in a majority of their games, will not atrophy in their collective pitch-calling ability as suggested by Baseball America, simply because the technology's shortcomings and untested nature mean that human umpires must be more alert; however, by that same token, the umpires will encounter more stress, which in the workplace can lead to a higher human failure rate or potential burnout.

In other words, see what expanded Replay Review has done to MLB umpires on the bases and you might have a clue on what to expect from ABS in the minors...that is, once professional baseball can prove that the technology actually works.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Chad Whitson

Presenting the UEFL Profile of MLB Umpire Chad Whitson.
Name: Chad Robert Whitson
Pronunciation Guide: CHAD WITT-sun
Date of Birth: December 8, 1981
Place of Birth: Dublin, Ohio

MiLB Leagues Worked: Appalachian, South Atlantic, California, Arizona Instructional, Eastern, International.
MLB Debut: May 15, 2014 (MLB)
Level: MLB
Umpire Uniform Number: 62
Crew Chief: No

2019 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 053 (DET DH Miguel Cabrera; QOC = Y).

2018 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 134 (WAS C Matt Wieters; QOC = Y).

2017 Ejections: 1.
Ejection 123 (WAS C Matt Wieters; QOC = Y). *First Career MLB Ejection*

2016 Ejections: None.
2015 Ejections: None.
2014 Ejections: None.

Ejection History: 0 (2014), 0 (2015), 0 (2016), 1 (2017), 1 (2018), 1 (2019).

UEFL History: Chad Whitson

Postseason and Special Events History
World Baseball Classic: -
All-Star Game: -
Wild Card Game: -
Division Series: -
Championship Series: -
World Series: -

Notes: Hired midseason in July 2019 to replace retiring umpire Mike DiMuro.
» Called Jake Arrieta's August 30, 2015 no-hitter, as a Minor League call-up umpire.
» Graduated from the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in 2005.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Case Play 2020-1 Answer - Standoff is Out of Line

After a college stalemate between catcher & runner led to a benches-clearing brawl, we made a Case Play of it. After consulting the relevant rules, it is apparent that the umpire could have declared the leading runner out earlier for running more than three feet away from his base path to avoid a tag.

Recap: Attempting to score on a hit to the outfield, a runner evades a catcher's tag near home plate, incidentally failing to touch the plate in the process. As the runner prepares to correct his base touching error, he sees the catcher ready to apply the tag and waits somewhere well behind the batter's box until the catcher acts.

The catcher, who in turn starts to chase the runner, quickly retreats to cover home plate, wary of the trailing runner who might attempt to score. A stalemate ensues, and finally ends with the preceding runner diving into an out with the catcher quickly tagging the trailing runner as well for a double play.
Related PostCase Play 2020-1 - Home Plate Standoff & Brawl (3/2/20).

The two primarily related rules here are those of the appeal play and those of the out-of-base-path. Let's tackle each possibility.

The catcher begins to chase the runner.
Appeal Play: NCAA rule 8-6-a-4 states that a runner is out on appeal when "the runner does not touch home plate and does not make an attempt to touch it. The fielder may touch either the runner or home plate." Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(12) is the related professional rule and states, "[Runner is out when] in running or sliding for home base, he fails to touch home base and appeals to the umpire for the decision." And, for good measure, NFHS (high school) rule 8-2-6b affords a live ball appeal for a runner missing a base, with 8-2-5 declaring, "If a runner who misses any base (including home plate) or leaves a base to early, desires to return to touch the base, he must do so immediately."

In this situation, because the initial "you missed the base" interaction between catcher and runner occurs off camera and we cannot conclusively determine what any potential catcher-umpire interaction was, it is difficult to determine whether the catcher actually appealed the runner's legality. For this reason, we err on the side of the call on the field, but nonetheless, the rule is designed such that the catcher is not required to physically chase a runner who makes no attempt to score or correct his no-touch error.

Runner clearly deviates by more than 3 feet.
Out of Base Path: NCAA rule 8-5-a states that a runner is out when, "In running to any base, while trying to avoid being tagged out, the runner runs more than three feet left or right from a direct line between the base and the runner’s location at the time a play is being made." The pro rule is OBR 5.09(b)(1) ("more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged...established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base") and high school is NFHS 8-4-2a ("runs more than three feet away from a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged...he establishes his baseline as directly between his position and the base toward which he is moving"). Remember, the MLB Umpire Manual states, "Base path rules still apply to the runner" in situations when the runner misses home plate.

Sidebar: NFHS uses the term "baseline" while OBR is "base path".

Ichiro Suzuki safely slides into home.
This is the rule the runner violated; he clearly runs more than three feet away from the direct line between his position at the time of the play or attempted tag (when he's off-camera behind the left-handed batter's box) and home plate. This is evident when he winds up well beyond the right-handed batter's box and more than three feet away from home plate. We contrast this in a video with Ichiro Suzuki successfully avoiding this call during a game in Baltimore.

Other Potential Outs:
Teammate Interference: OBR 6.01(a)(4) would declare the runner out for interference and cause the ball to become dead when "any member or members of the offensive team stand or gather around any base to which a runner is advancing, to confuse, hinder or add to the difficulty of the fielders." Naturally, it would appear the runner's own act of running well outside of his base path caused the on-deck batter to become more involved in the play than he would otherwise have been, in which case the on-deck batter's presence would become somewhat of a red herring (also: did he actually confuse/hinder or attempt to confuse/hinder his opponent?).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

MiLB Umpires Promoted to Triple-A for 2020

Hoping to become MLB's first-ever umpire from Japan, Takahito Matsuda is one of 10 Minor League umpires promoted from Double-A to Triple-A ahead of baseball's 2020 season.

Promotion to Triple-A's Pacific Coast and International Leagues is a required step on the road to the show and provides umpires with the opportunity to earn career-enhancing assignments such as the Arizona Fall League and MLB Spring Training, with an eventual goal of joining the major league regular season call-up/fill-in roster.

As reported this month by our friends at Ump-Attire.com, the following 2019 Double-A umpires were promoted to Triple-A for the 2020 season. This roster update accounts for the vacancies created by MLB promotions and possible resignations or releases at the Triple-A level, which will have a cascading effect on all levels of Minor League Baseball.

2020 Triple-A Rookie Umpire List (2019 league in parentheses):
>> Matt Bates (Southern League)
>> Cody Clark (Southern League) [UEFL History]
>> Chris Marco (Eastern League)
>> Takahito 'Taka' Matsuda (Eastern League) [UEFL History]
>> Jacob Metz (Eastern League)
>> Tyler Olsen (Texas League)
>> Justin Robinson (Justin Robinson)
>> Ben Sonntag (Southern League)
>> Derek Thomas (Eastern League)
>> Brian Walsh (Texas League)

Monday, March 2, 2020

Case Play 2020-1 - Home Plate Standoff & Brawl

A runner attempting to score fails to touch home plate as the catcher misses his tag; it's happened before, but in this Toledo-Alabama State game, it will spark a fight and ejections.

The umpire initially withholds the call—signaling neither safe nor out—and waits for a tag or touch. Yet it soon becomes apparent that neither player is budging: a stalemate and standoff ensues with the catcher not wanting to cede his position, wary of trailing runners attempting to advance, while the runner who passed home plate without touching it doesn't want to run into an out.

Eagle eye sidebar: Notice the on-deck batter's location relative to the leading runner after he passes home plate, but before he is declared safe or out.

What's the Call? Is this an appeal play? In this situation, both the preceding and trailing runners are ultimately declared out via tag when both runner slide toward home plate (the fielder then unnecessarily tags the first runner for a second time, which incites a benches-clearing brawl), but should the preceding runner have been declared out prior to the odd sequence at home plate?
Remember, while this is a college play subject to the NCAA rulebook, we are looking for a response that falls under the professional level's Official Baseball Rules code, as well as the college ruling. This video comes to us from @FoulPoleSports.

Rules Library
OBR 5.09(b)(1): "Any runner is out when—He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
OBR 5.09(b)(12): "In running or sliding for home base, he fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to the base, when a fielder holds the ball in his hand, while touching home base, and appeals to the umpire for the decision."
OBR 5.09(b)(12) Comment: "This rule applies only where runner is on his way to the bench and the catcher would be required to chase him. It does not apply to the ordinary play where the runner misses the plate and then immediately makes an effort to touch the plate before being tagged. In that case, runner must be tagged."
MLB Umpire Manual Interpretation [Runner Misses Home Plate]: "In such cases, base path rules still apply to the runner."
NCAA 8-6-4: "A runner shall be called out on specific appeals that occur as a result of a base runner error when—The runner does not touch home plate and does not make an attempt to touch it. The fielder may touch either the runner or home plate."

Video as follows:

Friday, February 28, 2020

Kerwin Danley Interviews with MLB's Hot Stove

Newly-promoted crew chief Kerwin Danley joined MLB Network's Hot Stove hosts Matt Vasgergian and Harold Reynolds to discuss his promotion as Major League Baseball's first African American umpire crew chief and recount his foray into the umpiring world through a chance encounter with former big league umpire Randy Marsh.

Danley touched base with studio host and retired big league infielder Reynolds, a former teammate of his at San Diego State University (Reynolds would later transfer to Cañada College), who told a story of meeting Danley at their campus apartments, Reynolds wearing what he thought was an impressive letterman jacket from alma mater Corvallis High School, only to then see Danley wearing an even-more accentuated letterman's jacket from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles.

Danley told Hot Stove he is "on top of the world, humbled, honored, and glad to be carrying the legacy of the African American umpires who came before me" and expects to receive his 2020 regular season schedule in early March.
Related PostMLB Promotes Kerwin Danley to Crew Chief (2/27/20).

Video as follows:

2020 MLB Spring Training Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball announced its 2020 Spring Training Umpire roster with 76 MLB and 20 MiLB call-up umpires for a total of 96 officials assigned to spring games in Arizona's Cactus and Florida's Grapefruit Leagues.

This preseason's 96 formally assigned officials represents a decrease of one umpire compared to 2019's MLB Spring roster of 97 umpires, but is more than 2018 (91 umps) and less than 2017 (102 umps).

The following list features sleeve numbers for all umpires who have them is categorized by MLB staff vs MiLB invitees and fill-in personnel. As of Spring's start, all 2019 call-up umpires were retained for the 2020 season, with four promoted to the MLB staff to fill vacancies.

Umpires in bold are new to the Spring Training list and may receive formal uniform number assignments later this Spring. A sleeve number for a minor league umpire/invitee signifies that this umpire is qualified to work MLB regular season games. Observations follow the list.

MLB Spring Training Umpires' Roster - 2020 Pre-Season
MLB StaffMLB StaffMiLB Invitees & Call-Ups
Baker, Jordan 71
Barksdale, Lance 23
Barrett, Lance 16
Barrett, Ted 65
Barry, Scott 87
Bellino, Dan 2
Blakney, Ryan 36
Blaser, Cory 89
Bucknor, CB 54
Carapazza, Vic 19
Carlson, Mark 6
Conroy, Chris 98
Culbreth, Fieldin 25
Cuzzi, Phil 10
Danley, Kerwin 44
Davis, Gerry 12
De Jesus, Ramon 18
Diaz, Laz 63
Drake, Rob 30
Dreckman, Bruce 1
Eddings, Doug 88
Emmel, Paul 50
Estabrook, Mike 83
Fairchild, Chad 4
Fletcher, Andy 49
Foster, Marty 60
Gibson, Greg 53
Gibson, Tripp 73
Gonzalez, Manny 79
Gorman, Brian 9
Guccione, Chris 68
Hallion, Tom 20
Hamari, Adam 78
Hernandez, Angel 5
Hickox, Ed 15
Hoberg, Pat 31
Holbrook, Sam 34
Hoye, James 92
Hudson, Marvin 51
Iassogna, Dan 58
Johnson, Adrian 80
Knight, Brian 91
Kulpa, Ron 46
Layne, Jerry 24
Lentz, Nic 59
Little, Will 93
Marquez, Alfonso 72
Meals, Jerry 41
Miller, Bill 26
Morales, Gabe 47
Muchlinski, Mike 76
Nauert, Paul 39
Nelson, Jeff 45
O'Nora, Brian 7
Porter, Alan 64
Rackley, David 86
Randazzo, Tony 11
Reyburn, D.J. 17
Reynolds Jim 77
Ripperger, Mark 90
Scheurwater, Stu 85
Segal, Chris 96
Tichenor, Todd 13
Timmons, Tim 95
Torres, Carlos 37
Tumpane, John 74
Vanover, Larry 27
Visconti, Jansen 52
Wegner, Mark 14
Welke, Bill 3
Wendelstedt, Hunter 21
West, Joe 22
Whitson, Chad 62
Winters, Mike 33
Wolcott, Quinn 81
Wolf, Jim 28
Additon, Ryan 67
Bacchus, Erich -
Bacon, John 70
Barber, Sean 29
Beck, Adam -
Clemons, Paul -
Libka, John 84
Livensparger, Shane 43
Mahrley, Nick 48
May, Ben 97
Miller, Brennan 55
Moscoso, Edwin -
Navas, Jose -
Ortiz, Roberto 40
Rehak, Jeremie 35
Riggs, Jeremy -
Tosi, Alex 66
Valentine, Junior -
Wills, Ryan -
Woodring, Tom 75

(20 MiLB Umpires)
(76 MLB Umpires)
(96 Total Umpires)

Information obtained by
UEFL on 2/26/2020.
www.closecallsports.com
Some observations, year-over-year:
  • > 2020's roster of 20 MiLBU is comprised of eight invitees and 12 regular-season call-up umps.
  • > Dan Merzel appeared on the 2017 Spring Training MiLB invitee list, was absent from the full-time 2018 list, back again in 2019, and off MLB's formal list in 2020; however, he has already officiated several Spring Training games in 2020.
  • > Junior Valentine appeared on the 2017 Spring invitee list, was absent in 2018 & 2019, and is back in 2020.
  • > Many other MiLBU will have the opportunity to officiate a few MLB Spring games, but only those on this list are a part of the formal full-time Spring staff.
  • > Lance Barrett has switched numbers from 94 to 16.
  • > Year-over-year subtractions: Cederstrom, Cooper, DeMuth, DiMuro, Everitt, Kellogg.
  • > Year-over-year MLB staff hires: Blakney, De Jesus, Lentz, Segal, Visconti, Whitson.

MLB Promotes Jim Reynolds to Crew Chief

Major League Baseball's final crew chief promotion of 2020 goes to Jim Reynolds, an MLB umpire since 1999 with 2,604 regular season games and 37 ejections to his name. The 51-year-old from Massachusetts served in a backup crew chief capacity over the past several years.

Reynolds has officiated 2 Wild Card Games, seven Division Series, four League Championship Series and two World Series. Like fellow promoted chiefs Dan Iassogna and Alfonso Marquez, Reynolds debuted during the summer of 1999 and joined the full-time roster upon the AL and NL staffs' subsequent merge.

Other promotions: Kerwin Danley | Dan Iassogna | Alfonso Marquez.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Alfonso Marquez Earns MLB Crew Chief Promotion

Longtime umpire Alfonso Marquez is MLB's first Latino-born Crew Chief, with Major League Baseball announcing his promotion ahead of the 2020 season. Fonzie, born in Zacatecas, Mexico, is the league's first Mexican native ump and has been officiating Major League games for 21 years.

He is the second Hispanic umpire promoted to Crew Chief in MLB history (Florida's Richie Garcia was promoted to American League Crew Chief in 1985).

Marquez made his National League debut in August 1999 and has worked the 2017 Wild Card Game, nine Division Series, five League Championship Series, and three World Series. His 63 MLB ejections have spanned 2,481 regular season games of experience.

At the age of 47, he is the youngest of the four promoted crew chiefs.

Marquez previously earned the UEFL's Honorable Umpire of the Year Award in 2011 and (Best) Umpire of the Year in 2015.

Dan Iassogna Promoted to Crew Chief

Major League Baseball promoted Dan Iassogna to Crew Chief ahead of the 2020 MLB season. Having just celebrated 20 years as an umpire in the majors, Iassogna brings 2,600 regular season games and a postseason résumé of two Wild Card Games, six Division Series, four League Championship Series, and two World Series with him to his new role.

The 50-year-old from Bridgeport, Connecticut has effected 76 ejections since his August 20, 1999 debut in the American League and also worked six games in the National League in September '99 before receiving the full-time call ahead of the 2000 season.

Iassogna was the UEFL's Promising Umpire of the Year (then-known-as Noteworthy Umpire) in 2013.

MLB Promotes Kerwin Danley to Crew Chief

Umpire Kerwin Danley will become MLB's first African American crew chief, as Major League Baseball promoted the 58-year-old Californian to fill one of four vacancies created by the retirements of chiefs Gary Cederstrom, Dana DeMuth, Mike Everitt, and Jeff Kellogg this 2019-2020 offseason.

Danley, who played baseball with Tony Gwynn and Bud Black at San Diego State, ascends to the on-field supervisory role with 45 ejections over 2,597 career regular season games. Danley has also officiated the 2019 Wild Card Game, seven Division Series, two League Championship Series, two World Series, and two All-Star Games.

He joins the crew chief ranks in his 29th overall MLB season (including call-up experience), having debuted in the National League in 1992. Danley was the UEFL's Promising Umpire (then-known-as Noteworthy Umpire) of the Year in 2007.

The Associated Press published news of Danley's promotion early Thursday morning.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

MLB Ejection S1 - Mike Estabrook (1; Brent Strom)

HP Umpire Mike Estabrook ejected Astros Pitching Coach Brent Strom (balls/strikes) in the top of the 5th inning of the #Cardinals-#Astros Spring Training game. With one out and the bases loaded, Cardinals batter Justin Williams took four pitches from Astros pitcher Andre Scrubb for called first, second, third, and fourth balls (including a 2-2 pitch ruled ball three, and 3-2 ball four), thus walking and forcing in a run; Strom was ejected after a mound visit that followed ensuing batter Ivan Herrera's two-RBI single to left field. QOC is unavailable for this Spring Training game, as electronic measurements were not used in this game. At the time of the ejection, the Cardinals were leading, 7-3. The Cardinals ultimately won the contest, 7-4.

This is Mike Estabrook (83)'s 1st ejection of Spring Training 2020.
Mike Estabrook now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 0 Spring = 0).
Crew Chief CB Bucknor now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Spring = 0).

This is the 1st ejection report of 2020, first of the preseason.
This is Houston's 1st ejection of 2020, 1st in the Grapefruit League (HOU 1; All Others 0).
This is Brent Strom's 1st ejection since July 11, 2015 (Greg Gibson; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Mike Estabrook's 1st ejection since Sept 8, 2019 (Dave Martinez; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros (Spring), 2/26/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Names Ryan Blakney to Staff as Last 2020 Hire

Major League Baseball's final hire of the 2020 pre-season is Ryan Blakney, who joins the full-time umpire staff after five years and 600 games of MLB experience.

Born in Wenatchee, Washington, Blakney officiated his first big league contest on April 23, 2015 and in all officiated in the Arizona, Midwest, Arizona Instructional, Northwest, Carolina, Texas, Florida Instructional, and Pacific Coast Leagues.

The 34-year-old has four MLB ejections to date, had the second-most games of big league experience of all circa-2019 umpires (only fellow-hire Chris Segal had more), and had the best replay score of the entire minor league call-up roster.

Prior to the 2019 season, we analyzed the hiring outlook for fill-in umpires and named Chris Segal, Nic Lentz, Chad Whitson, and Ryan Blakney to the top tier as most likely to be hired upon staff vacancy. With Blakney joining the full-time roster, all of our Tier 1 umpires in 2019 have now become permanent big leaguers.
Related PostTriple-A Call-Up and Fill-In Results - 2018-19 Offseason (1/28/19).